Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Parents Survival Guide to Legoland Windsor

by Paul Fogg

On Legoland Windsor:

I have visited Legoland many times over many years, as well as having made and heard suggestions from many, many families over the years. It has given me a set of “rules” that have become invaluable in attacking and surviving a day out at Legoland in Windsor.

There really can be nothing worse than planning a trip to Legoland and to turn up just after the park is open at 10am. This is the first fatal move. You will end up queuing almost as soon as you get off the M4 motorway (see Getting To Us for directions). This inevitably means you get to the Legoland park some time after 10am, more likely nearer 11am, then queue into the parking area, queue to get tickets, queue to get through the ticket barrier, queue to get on the train down the hill and then you continue your day with a bit more queuing on all the rides. Lovely!

I think you can all see the picture I'm painting here. I will just add that this is normally only this bad on peak days in summer, at weekends and during the school holidays, but it can happen at any day to a greater or lesser degree depending upon the weather – it suddenly turns hot and sunny, everyone decides to go to Legoland – or there’s a special offer on you didn't know about – all the locals with their Legoland annual passes turn out for the day.

Legoland Windsor - What to do?

So how do you start off on the right foot?

The most important thing to remember is that the Legoland park opens at 10am, and by park I don’t mean the parking, the pay points, the Lego shop or the hill top restaurant!

Yep you guessed it, this is all open earlier, at 9.30am. This is when you should be rolling up to the parking area. From the previous scenario you are already 1 hour ahead of those less fortunate who are about to get stuck in the traffic queues off the M4!

Legoland Windsor - Have a Plan

So you’ve arrived and parked up, its about 9.40am and you’ve unpacked the kids and are wandering off to the ticket booths, but of course if you’ve planned ahead – which you should have because you’re reading this for a start – and have bought your Legoland tickets online (normally a slight discount) or bought them from Langton House with your accommodation and got the 2 day passes …. You can pass straight into the Beginning, get your bearings, form The Plan of attack, and try and keep the children away from the shop! Try and get some stickers for the kids, these have your mobile phone number on them in case they (or you) get separated. Check out the Model Makers Workshop and Hall of Fame – some amazing Lego models, a near life size 747 cockpit, the Lego Crown Jewels amongst many other exhibits. Alternatively, just get a coffee at the Pitstop Café. There is plenty to do here for ½ an hour to chill out and relax before you hit Legoland proper. The Plan will help you get an idea of where to head first, which rides your children want as well as those with height restrictions and the times of the shows throughout the day.

Legoland Windsor - To train or not to train?

It is getting towards 10am, head down to the Hill Train. Now it may not be worth getting on the train, particularly if there is already a queue, after all, the purpose of this guide is to cut down the queuing, so why would you want to start the day in one! Just wait until they let you past and walk on into the park.

It’s all downhill into the park, but it’s now time to follow The Plan you thought about earlier. The basic rule is to walk to the back of Legoland and work your way forward. Its important to get to the major rides as soon as you can, do them and then you can relax and make the most of the park for the rest of the day.

Legoland Windsor - Which rides are best?

In my opinion the best rides at Legoland in 2006 were the Dragon Ride, Pirate Falls, Jungle Coaster and the Driving School. The one thing you can guarantee is that by midday there will be at least a 45 minute queue for all these rides, so its best to try and tick them all off you list as soon as possible. Of course if your little lovelies are too small or just into something else, then make sure you have it in The Plan.

On the walk down the hill, do not get distracted by the show at the Harbour area or the model village, these will be your saving grace later in the day. When you’ve done the rides that are important to you, or the queues have built up, this is the time to start doing all the many other things that are on offer in Legoland.

Legoland Windsor - Avoiding the Line ups

There are so many things that you can do that will not involve much, if any, queuing at all, for instance:-

1. The Harbour show is always fun for adults and children.
2. The Rat Trap – an adventure playground.
3. The Amazing Mazes -yep, its a maze, but done in a Legoland theme.
4. Enchanted Forest – good for a slow quiet wander, full of Lego animals.
5. Mini Land – do not underestimate this, it's brilliant. I thought it was going to be the most boring bit of Legoland, but for adults and children, its often the most interesting. Loads of moving boats, cars and trains moving all around a superb model village made of lego bricks. Constantly being updated every year with more and more buildings.
6. Water Works – get the swimming costumes on and let them run in and out of the water jets, great fun and us adults get to sit and watch the mayhem! Take sun tan lotion in summer and swimming costumes.
7. Model Makers Workshop - If you didn't do it earlier then here's your chance. Probably more interesting than you think, I shall say no more!
8. Imagination Theatre - Usually a show of some sort, again good entertainment and a chance to sit down!
9. Discovery Zone - A chance to play, build and learn with Lego.
10. Duplo Play Area - A fun area with slides and climbing frames, and seats for us adults! Aimed more towards the younger children.

Legoland Windsor - Important things to Remember

The following is a list of some of the important things to remember to do and things to bring to help make your day at Legoland as fun and painless as possible.

Legoland Windsor - Checklist

1. Legoland Windsor Map – check your children’s height before you set off, and make sure of the rides they are able to get on.
2. Tickets – pre-book if possible. We at Langton House are selling tickets as part of our accommodation - see conditions.
3. Food – Sandwiches, drinks and snacks. It is expensive in the park, but there is plenty of room to sit out on the grass and have a picnic, although I have found the food sold in Legoland to be generally very good quality.
4. Show times – Find out the times of the various shows and plan your afternoon around these.
5. Swimming suits – The Water Works is fantastic fun in the hot weather but expect the children to get absolutely drenched!
6. Sun screen - don't get burnt in the sun, even England gets hot in the summer.
7. Double check that the park is open! It has varied opening times and dates. Don't make the mistake of turning up to find its closed.

Legoland Windsor - In Summary

I really think Legoland is a brilliant park for the younger children. After about 11 or so it becomes progressively less interesting and for young teenagers I think other parks like Thorpe Park are better suited. Children under 3 can also find it a bit restrictive, but then again they are free to get in! But don’t let this put you off in any way. Legoland was built as a safe and fun place for the kids to explore. Enjoy your day, don’t expect to get it all done, it now really takes a good day and a half to cover it all. Think about staying in Windsor (at Langton House of course!) and looking around Windsor and using a two day Legoland pass. This way you really will be able to get to the park early with allot less stress and less stress = more fun! The main problem and perhaps the only real criticism with Legoland is that if you are a lone parent and you want to take 2 children, it becomes very difficult unless one or both are old enough to be left on their own, as so many of the rides are based on a parent and child combination.

Above all, remember this guide is only here to aid you.

If nothing else, get there early!

If anyone has any comments, suggestions or updates, please let me know, so that I can pass on good and accurate advice to others.

Legoland Windsor

Lego Facts:- There are 52 Lego bricks for each person on Earth Children spend five billion hours a year playing with Lego bricks If all Lego sets sold in the last 10 years were placed end to end they could reach from London to Perth in Australia A Lego brick is measured to the 2/1000th of a millimetre Source: Lego

If I’ve got anything wrong, let me know and don’t sue me!

Paul Fogg Proprietor at Langton House and survivor of over 35 trips to Legoland!

Legoland was sold in late 2005 to a major entertainments group - this can only be good as we can look forward to much more investment over the coming years. There is expected to be an investment of over £7 million in late 2006 in preparation for the 2007 season. This should be mainly on a brand new ride even larger than the Jungle Coaster. 2006 sees 4 major changes in the park:- Digger Challenge Spellbreaker 4D movie New Johnny Thunder adventure show Miniland London skyline

Please note that the park is really aiming at children from 3 to 12 years old, and even then the extremes in this age range will not get the most out of the park.

Paul Fogg is the Proprietor of Langton House bed and breakast in Windsor England. www.langtonhouse.co.uk

Legoland Windsor Author

Paul Fogg has been running the Langton House bed and breakfast since 1996.

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